ESL:Academic Integrity & Plagiarism

From the ESL Student Handbook, by Young-Kyung Min, PhD

What is academic integrity? Learn about the concept of academic integrity and some practical strategies you can use to avoid plagiarism.

In some cultures, it may not be a problem to borrow someone else’s ideas or words without acknowledging the sources. However, using someone else’s ideas or words without crediting the author is a very serious offense in the US. The protection rules of intellectual property in the US are very strict: plagiarism is regarded as if you stole someone’s property. Although it may not be your intention to steal another’s work, if you used someone’s ideas or words without indicating the original source in your own work, it is considered plagiarism.

You should know that if you used the exact same paper for different courses without letting your instructor know, it is also regarded as an act of plagiarism. If you want to use a paper that you wrote for another course, you should present the paper to the instructor and explain how different your current paper is going to be and which aspects of the previous paper you want to further develop for the current project. Please visit the following website to learn more about what constitutes a violation of the University of Washington Student Code. You may also find useful information about plagiarism and academic integrity by visiting our library website

Plagiarism may result in a failing grade for the assignment and the course, as well as possible disciplinary action, which includes university expulsion. Therefore, it is crucial to improve your understanding about what constitutes an act of plagiarism. One of the easiest ways to check your understanding of plagiarism is to take a self-test such as the ones offered here (Sample ASample B)

In order not to commit plagiarism, you must improve your ability to use sources effectively for your writing assignments. One of the main differences between academic writing and personal writing is that you must engage the work of others in your paper to strengthen your argument for academic writing. Thus, you must learn how to use sources—both print and multimedia sources—responsibly and effectively according to the required citation conventions for your paper. There are three ways to engage the work of others in your writing: summarizing, paraphrasing, and quoting. Please check out the sections “Source Use & Synthesis Skills” and "Dropped Quotation" to learn about the strategies you can use to improve your ability to use sources effectively for your writing assignments.

Before you start to work on your assignment, you should find out which citation system you are supposed to use for the course. Check out the latest version of the citation system manual and see how the model paper used the citation rules for both in-text citation and the References (or Works Cited) page. Each citation system (e.g. APA, MLA, CM, CBE) updates its citation system rules regularly. Thus, it is essential to check out the latest version of the citation manual for your course to learn the correct rules.


Contact Young-Kyung Min, PhD
Lecturer, Education Program